Microsoft Offering XP As Alternative For Vista PCs

Dennis Faas's picture

In what appears to be an attempt to end sluggish sales, in June Microsoft reportedly began quietly letting PC makers offer a "downgrade" option to consumers who buy Windows Vista Business or Ultimate machines that want to switch to Windows XP.

Who's taken up the new initiative?

  • Fujitsu started to include a Windows XP disc in the box with its laptops and tablets. "That's going to help out small and medium-size businesses," Fujitsu marketing manager Brandon Farris told CNET
  • Lenovo is offering Windows XP Recovery CDs as a way to downgrade on "qualified systems" for an additional fee until July 31, 2008.
  • Dell has been offering businesses the option to purchase machines with Vista with XP downgrade rights at no extra charge. In April Dell brought Windows XP back as an option, even for consumers.
  • Last month Hewlett-Packard began a program for many of its business models. Business desktops, workstations and select business notebooks and tablet PCs can be configured to include the XP Pro restore disc for little or no charge.

Microsoft confirmed that changes were made over the summer to make it easier for customers to downgrade to XP. Microsoft changed its business practices so computer makers selling pre-activated Vista machines to order Windows XP discs that could be included with PCs or shipped to customers without requiring additional activation.

In a statement, Microsoft noted that neither it nor PC makers are "obligated to supply earlier versions to end users under the end user licensing terms."

Currently Microsoft is requiring all large PC makers to stop selling Windows XP based systems effective January 31, 2008, although some PC makers want to offer it longer. More information on Microsoft downgrade rights is available on their web site.

Consumers who purchased new PCs with Windows Vista Premium aren't fortunate enough to have the "downgrade" option yet. It'll be interesting to see if home consumers are left high and dry or if they'll get the same option. Time will tell.

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